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Rare beetle has love bug; Threatened species must find a mate.

Byline: VICKY ANDERSON

ARE beetle which stowed away to the UK in an imported shipment of wood is looking for love in Liverpool.

The unusual insect is a Morimus Asper beetle is possibly the only one in the country and experts said his days are numbered if he does not breed.

An international hunt is now on to find a female to keep the beetle - which was named George by staff at Liverpool's BugWorld Experience - company.

They hope if they can import a mate from another European centre, the rare insects could go on show to the public.

The beetle was found by a couple in Wrexham, who discovered him in a piece of oak which was imported to the UK from France.

Realising the species was not indigenous, they contacted a local raptor and reptile sanctuary, which in turn contacted BugWorld at Albert Dock.

The venue, which opened earlier this year, is the only insectarium in the country and experts were immediately able to identify it as the Morimus Asper beetle.

Also known as the Capricorn beetle, it is not native to the UK and, although it can be found in Mediterranean countries, it is recognised as a threatened species.

The beetle gets its name from its large antennae and belongs to a family of tree-dwelling, bark-eating "long-horned" beetles.

As soon as Capricorn beetles come out of their cocoon, they immediately begin to breed and do not stop until their deaths, usually six to eight months later.

BugWorld manager Jenny Dobson said: "This type of beetle is not usually found in the UK.

"There have been a couple of instances of it turning up in foreign matter over the last century, but it is extremely rare and does not live very long. So it is safe to say this is the only beetle of its kind here in the UK.

"If we do not find it a mate, we will care for it as long as it lives here at BugWorld."

CAPTION(S):

LOOKING FOR LOVE: Jeff Lambert, assistant head keeper at BugWorld, with the Capricon beetle Picture: HOWARD DAVIES
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2009
Words:351
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